I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

USA and Canada (April 1 - June 4, 2009). Special concert for fans in NYC (February 19). Concert reports, set lists, photos, media coverage, multimedia links, recollections...
User avatar
findingtime
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:39 am

I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by findingtime » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:07 am

Dear Forumites:

I know life is not fair. This post has to start with that acknowledgment because I assume that will be the first thought of many readers.

I only recently joined the forum and that was only because I am a little more patient with technology than my girlfriend. She's the big Leonard Cohen fan (like the long time forum members) and I am only a casual admirer. She's been with Leonard since the first record. She owns the books. She has read the poetry and the novels. She's the true devotee.

As a result of my joining the forum, Jarkko's great efforts, and the information provided by other forum members, we now have great tickets to the April 1 show. The anticipation is building. It was building -- it has now gone to another level.

Today we had agreed to meet a friend who was in from out of town. On the way to the meeting place we were listening to the radio and the program director said he had it on good authority that Leonard Cohen was in town and in rehearsals for the beginning of his North American tour. "Wouldn't it be something if we met him?" she mused. We speculated about where someone like Leonard Cohen would go while visiting Austin.

After a good time with our friend and another friend who had unexpectedly appeared on the scene, the little gathering broke up.

The friends left, my sweetie went to the restroom, and I stood around waiting. I decided to go to the men's room and as I leaned in that direction my eyes fell upon Leonard Cohen. Leonard Cohen! Alive, in the flesh, and walking toward me. It was startling and I initially thought I was mistaken; just being wishful. I suppose I was staring. As he looked in my direction our eyes met. He didn't seem offended and he acknowledged my presence. I'm a Texan. We look at people and acknowledge them -- even strangers. He did the same.

His look didn't convey the assumption that I was looking at him because I recognized him. So I said, "Hello. Welcome to Austin," to signal that I knew who he was and truly did welcome him.

"Thank you," he replied as I leaned in his direction.

He knew by then that I knew who he was and that meant someone was going to interrupt whatever he was doing. He responded in a way that was gentlemanly, to say the least. He allowed me to approach him and shook my hand. I apologized for the intrusion and told him I wouldn't bother him except for the fact that he was my girlfriend's favorite and she would find it very meaningful if she could meet him. I asked him if he could wait a moment until she returned.

I know that's not what he wanted to do, but he allowed as how he would be willing to do so. "Is she nearby?" he asked. "She's in the ladies' room," I told him. He nodded his assent to wait a moment.

I thanked him for his graciousness and again apologized for the intrusion. He accepted the situation in a way that many people --especially people who have some degree of fame -- would not. To make small talk while we waited, I said, "We have second row seats for your Wednesday night show."

In a voice that could only be Leonard Cohen's, and with a look of humility, courtliness, and a sort of generous confidence that few can possess, he said, "Then we'll play for you."

Until then I was trying not to chatter or be annoying or fannish. I was happy he had agreed to wait and I didn't want to abuse his generosity by making him talk to me. But when he said that I was so charmed by the statement and so startled by the thought of it, that I beamed and responded, "Oh, we know you will. We've been listening to the NPR cuts and they are amazing. You've put together a wonderful band."

"It's a great band," he said. I agreed and said we were excited that he had chosen to start his tour in Austin.

I thanked him again and again apologized for delaying him, telling him my girlfriend would die if she learned I spoke to him and she didn't. He nodded his willingness to wait another moment just as she appeared. She was in a happy mood and it showed on her face. But when she made eye contact with me and I arched my brows toward the gentleman standing next to me, her demeanor went from pleasant to shocked. She disintegrated. She was, in an instant, confused, unbelieving, and then excited as the recognition sunk in. I cannot express the happiness I felt when I saw the delight pass through her entire being. She rushed over as Mr. Cohen turned directly toward her to accept her greeting and joy.

I said to Mr. Cohen, "This is S------- B---------." And "S-----, you know who this is."

She put out both arms in a gesture of disbelief and joy and possibly inviting a hug. He extended his right hand and she took it. She told him what an honor it was to meet him and was generally beaming and nearly speechless. To emphasize the significance of the moment for her I said to him, "To me, Van Morrison is The Man. To her, you are The Man."

She blurted out (if a whisper can be blurted), as if in a trance, "No! You are the world!"

He smiled a modest smile of appreciation. He was sweet as he thanked her for her kind words in a way that accepted her praise without conceit. It was moving to see someone accept a fan's attention with such grace. What must it be like to be so humble and yet so self-assured? We thanked him for allowing us to detain him and parted by thanking him for coming to Austin. And with that he was on his way.

Actually, we were going the same way and so we were sort of following him, but were sure to leave him alone and go about our business, not putting our attention on him or attracting attention to him. He had been more than generous with us and we owed him that from gratitude. Soon enough, he was off in one direction and we in another.

Sometimes meeting someone you have known of or admired is disappointing or at least not what you expected. Meeting Leonard Cohen was just the opposite. He was what you would imagine him to be only more so. That is what I am happy to report and why I have composed this little essay.
Last edited by findingtime on Sat Mar 28, 2009 9:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
MaryB
Posts: 3963
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:40 am
Location: Columbus, Ohio USA

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by MaryB » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:46 am

Hello findingtime,

Of course life is fair - you had an encounter that everyone dreams about! OMG, you and your girlfriend met LC on your respective ways to a restroom :shock: ! That is definitely a first :lol: . These chance encounters always reaffirm the fact that LC is indeed humble, gracious, and a true gentleman as you have pointed out through the telling of this experience. I thank you for this post (what a doozy for a first one!) and welcome you to the Forum. Hope to hear more from you.

Wonder if Van Morrison will still be your #1 after seeing LC in concert :roll: ?

Best regards,
Mary
1993 Detroit 2008 Kitchener June 2-Hamilton June 3 & 4-Vienna Sept 24 & 25-London RAH Nov 17 2009 NYC Feb 19-Grand Prairie Apr 3-Phoenix Apr 5-Columbia May 11-Red Rocks Jun 4-Barcelona Sept 21-Columbus Oct 27-Las Vegas Nov 12-San Jose Nov 13 2010 Sligo Jul 31 & Aug 1-LV Dec 10 & 11 2012 Paris Sept 30-London Dec 11-Boston Dec 16 2013 Louisville Mar 30-Amsterdam Sept 20
User avatar
KaimiK
Posts: 275
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 9:23 pm
Location: Washington

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by KaimiK » Sat Mar 28, 2009 7:13 am

What an amazing story! I have to admit, like many who are so charmed by this man, I've daydreamed that fate will intervene and allow me to meet him too. We'll be in Seattle the day before the show and I wonder if he'll be strolling the same parks, or if we'll be in the same hotel near the venue. Though knowing my luck, we would happen upon him just after my precious two-year old gave me a big ice-creamy hug all over my shirt or something like that! :lol:

It's reassuring to hear that, though it's rare, some realities do actually live up to the fantasy! I love these stories!
You let me sing, you lifted me up, you gave my soul a beam to travel on. You folded your distance back into my heart.
User avatar
A Brick in the Wall
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Aug 30, 2006 12:04 pm
Location: 3rd row - 4th from the left

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by A Brick in the Wall » Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:00 pm

MaryB wrote:Hello findingtime,

Of course life is fair - you had an encounter that everyone dreams about! OMG, you and your girlfriend met LC on your respective ways to a restroom :shock: ! That is definitely a first :lol: . These chance encounters always reaffirm the fact that LC is indeed humble, gracious, and a true gentleman as you have pointed out through the telling of this experience. I thank you for this post (what a doozy for a first one!) and welcome you to the Forum. Hope to hear more from you.

Wonder if Van Morrison will still be your #1 after seeing LC in concert :roll: ?

Best regards,
Mary

I took a leak in the stall next to the "Fonz" once -- meeting Leonard would be higher on my thrill list. :razz:
News Gal
Posts: 212
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:12 pm
Location: New Haven, CT
Contact:

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by News Gal » Sat Mar 28, 2009 6:05 pm

Every encounter I read just proves he seems like a really solid guy to say Hi to. I hope Deidre, the gal who works at both the station and at the Palace Theatre, runs into him at the theatre when he comes by in May. She didn't know who he was until she saw ticket sales in her box office go through the roof LOL, now she really wants to see what LC's all about.
ᎤᏩᎬᏗᏒ ᏥᎪᏩᏘᎲ, ᎯᎩᎾᎵᎢ, ᎠᏓᎯᏍᏗ ᎨᏐ. Uwagvdisv tsigowatihv, higinali'i , adahisdi geso (I've seen the future brother, it is murder.)
imaginary friend
Posts: 1371
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 5:09 am
Location: Vancouver, Canada

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by imaginary friend » Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:51 pm

Findingtime,

I loved your essay. Of course the story itself is wonderful – but the set up, lead in, climax and wrap, had me on the edge of my seat! (I'm still smiling) Hope to read more of your writing here.
User avatar
lizzytysh
Posts: 25384
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by lizzytysh » Sun Mar 29, 2009 7:56 am

Hey, Finding Time ~ And, yes, he did 8) :D !

Please copy and paste this into the "Leonard's Recent Meetings with Cohenites" thread in the Comments and Questions section. It has to do with encounters with Leonard.

An awesome story and, as IF has noted, very well told.

Ha! I would have LOVED to have seen your girlfriend's face :lol: ! That kind of recognition process cannot be replicated ;-) .

Thanks for sharing your great story, welcome to the Forum, and enjoy Leonard's Austin show! I loved your girlfriend's clarification on what Leonard is to her 8) .


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
findingtime
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:39 am

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by findingtime » Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:05 am

Thanks to all who posted kind comments. I was pretty nonplussed by the whole encounter, but the career-long fan, my significant other, was in orbit. She later described it as going into a disassociative state when she realized who she was about to meet. She was so discombobulated she forgot she had a camera in her purse -- her phone -- but is so thrilled to have met the great man that she has no regrets about the lack of a photographic memento. She is eagerly looking forward to her third Leonard Cohen concert. And, after having met him and been taken in by his presence, I am primed for my first LC concert.
User avatar
lizzytysh
Posts: 25384
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by lizzytysh » Wed Apr 01, 2009 3:21 am

Hi Finding Time ~

It may be just semantics, but this:
And, after having met him and been taken in by his presence, I am primed for my first LC concert.
doesn't seem to be equivalent to your being non-plussed ;-) .

I love your girlfriend's description of herself as being in a "disassociative state" ~ the way you described her in your anecdote really fits that. When I sat next to Leonard, I forgot I had one in my purse, too :) . Fortunately, I thought to ask Dick and Linda to take a photo once they were using their own to take some.

If you don't love this concert, I'll be shocked. Enjoy...


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
findingtime
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:39 am

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by findingtime » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:38 am

Lizzytysh -- I'm confused or else I have misused a word. Can you elaborate upon your nonequivalence comment?

I agree with you completely about the show. I know it's going to be wonderful.
User avatar
lizzytysh
Posts: 25384
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by lizzytysh » Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:30 pm

Hi, again ~

Generally speaking, "non-plussed" suggests not impressed at all, and perhaps with even a shade of discontent [not simply a state of neutrality, as it seems you may have intended it, and that's where the semantics come in]. So, when you said that and then ended with having been "taken in by his presence" [a very positive] and being "primed" [suggesting being really ready for in a very positive way], the juxtaposition of your first term with those follow-up comments came across to me as rather contradictory. Even with regard to "neutrality," these follow up comments suggest otherwise, too.

Yes... it will be wonderful :D . I'm looking forward to your [and your girlfriend's] comments on it.


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
User avatar
findingtime
Posts: 30
Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:39 am

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by findingtime » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:19 pm

Well, Lizzy, you sent me to the dictionary. I thought nonplussed meant confused, distracted, unsure.

So, here's what I found: The adjective nonplussed means "surprised, confused, and uncertain what to do or say." It is increasingly used in the almost opposite sense of "untroubled," especially in U.S. English (Nonplussed by the criticism, she continued to direct her films in the very same offbeat manner for which she was famed.). This new meaning is not yet accepted as standard, and it may cause ambiguity in sentences such as He seemed nonplussed by the news. It possibly derives from a misunderstanding of the non- element, perhaps also influenced by nonchalant which does mean "calm and unconcerned." But nonplussed goes back to Latin non plus "no more," and does not have a positive or affirmative form plussed.

Wow. I guess I'm old school.

Anyway, there is no way I would consider myself nonchalant or indifferent about meeting Mr. Cohen. To the contrary, I was quite excited by the situation and then charmed when he promised, "Then we'll play for you."

Only twelve hours to go. I'll report afterwards.
ladydi
Posts: 2325
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:14 pm

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by ladydi » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:23 pm

Hi Lizzy,

Webster's says that "nonplussed" means not quite knowing what to say or think...akin to being perplexed. I don't mean to speak for findingtime, but I think he didn't infer any discontent but simply at that moment being perhaps without words, and that now, having physically met Leonard and being witness to his graciousness he is more open to a greater appreciation of his concert tonight!

All the best,
Diana

ps..Welcome to the Forum, findingtime! Loved your story and your girlfriends reaction! How lucky was she..and you! Enjoy the concert :D
User avatar
phillip
Posts: 415
Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 11:49 am
Location: warrington uk

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by phillip » Wed Apr 01, 2009 7:18 pm

Hi

like me then I have been a big FAN for 21 years and got ALL his books and novels and albums etc... I remember shaking hands with him after his concert in London in 1993 and I saw him in concert twice last year, going again this year to see him in Liverpool, can't wait and it was good to read tyour blog too:)
I have been a Leonard Cohen fan for 28 years feel free to email me if you wish to keep in touch!
User avatar
lizzytysh
Posts: 25384
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:57 pm
Location: Florida, U.S.A.

Re: I shook Leonard Cohen's hand earlier today

Post by lizzytysh » Thu Apr 02, 2009 12:16 am

I was quite excited by the situation and then charmed when he promised, "Then we'll play for you."
That's the impression I got, too! That's why the [my!] confusion.

I'm wondering if the dictionary offered my long-term understanding of the term as a secondary or third-in-line meaning... or if I've just been wrong all along [not the first time, I might add :lol: ]. That's interesting to me and I'm glad that it sent you to the dictionary. I'll have to revamp my understanding of the word.

Yeah, Diane, the way you read it is the reason I felt confused by use of that term, of which I am apparently the only one who DIDN'T know what it meant :lol: . I'm glad you folks straightened me out on it. I really don't like to use words inaccurately... if I can help it. Obviously, I couldn't on this one this time because I don't recall ever having heard it as meaning that... but from now on ~ no excuse ;-) .


~ Lizzy
"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken."
~ Oscar Wilde
Post Reply

Return to “The North American Tour 2009”